My Batwa sister
I walk through the profuse jungle, brushing past branches that splatter raindrops from the wet leaves on my forehead. A narrow, slippery path takes us deeper into the lush world. The rain has softened the red soil, and my feet sink into the mud. I wander in paradise, but with a melody of sorrow.
We are Batwa, those who gather and roam. Those who make the most beautiful pots and those whose children fall asleep gazing at millions of stars in the sky.
The nearby smell of smoke tells us that we are on the right path. Amidst the foliage there is a village where families live in grass huts. The huts are skillfully placed around the open area firepit in the centre of the village. Steam rises from the roofs of the huts in the morning mist, the scent of the night rain still in the air. I am greeted by dancing and singing. After the welcome, I slip into a hut where a mother lives with her five children. The youngest is still a baby. The young mother, my new friend, tells her story:
“We are Batwa, those who gather and roam. Those who make the most beautiful pots and those whose children fall asleep gazing at a million of stars in the sky. I am a mother to children, whose father is searching for work elsewhere. My children go to bed hungry and wake up in the morning, and I have nothing to give them. My hope for the future is for my children to go to school. But they are apathetic, quietly crying from hunger. More than anything, my hope is hear my children’s laughter and see then smile again.
I make pots. My mother made pots and my grandmother made pots. We Batwa are potters, we have the skill. We live day to day because we don’t know about tomorrow.”
You tell me your story, and I think –here I am, from a different world – learning to live for the moment, because I want to slow down. But you have no choice. I’m perplexed by this world in which we live.
The birds sing as they fly across the blue sky, unaware of the swells of sorrow below. Or is their singing consolation; Look at the birds of the air!
You sit by the fire and ask me to sit beside you. This is hope, – this moment and someone to share it with. It builds a bridge that extends to tomorrow. We sit watching the smoldering embers. My friend, the sister of my heart, turns the hardening pot in the fire and starts a gentle song rocking the sleeping baby on her back.
“Hmm, mama hmm, sleep peacefully, joy of my heart. I don’t cry because you are a flower, that I cherish and protect, hmm, mama hmm. Like a lion I will protect you, a gift from God to me and my whole village. The joy of my eyes.”
And now, months afterwards, on Mother’s Day morning, in my own home, with my children, I hold the roses I got and hum that song again. Like a lion I will protect you, God’s gift, my child. The joy of my heart, hmm, mama hmm.
I send my thoughts to you, my sister in the Batwa village, and prayers to heaven – Give us our daily bread. Help us bring a smile back to the faces of the children of the world!
Blog by Katja Köykkä 9.5.2020. From Fida FI website: www.fida.info/blogi/batwa-kylan-siskolleni